Zimbabwe’s state television, ZBC, early on Wednesday morning carried a live broadcast in which a man in military fatigues, identified as Major General SB Moyo, said 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his family “were safe”.
The impromptu broadcast came amid mounting fears of an army takeover in response to the sacking of Mugabe’s deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Earlier at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare.
The message urged Zimbabweans to “go to work as normal”. The military figure said the army was only taking action against “criminals”.
It remained unclear where commander General Constantino Chiwenga was hours after Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF said his comments on Monday warning the army would step in were tantamount to treason.
On Tuesday army tanks moved into the capital heightening fears of a military take over. Mugabe himself chaired a cabinet meeting that ended in the evening.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo, in a statement Tuesday night, said what Chiwenga suggested “treasonable conduct” on his part.
He said the military supremo’s statement was “not only surprising, but an outrageous violation of professional soldiership and his wartime record as a high-ranking freedom fighter.
“Clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability, the statement by General Constantino Chiwenga, which was not signed, and which did not represent the rest of the command element, suggests treasonable conduct on his part, as this was meant to incite insurrection and violent challenge to the constitutional order,” Khaya Moyo said.
“Indeed, this is what happens when the gun seeks to overreach by dictating to politics and norms of constitutionality. As the party running the democratically elected Government of Zimbabwe, Zanu PF will never succumb to any threats, least of all, those deriving from conduct that is inconsistent with the tenets of democracy and constitutionality.
“Not too far back, the Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces [Mugabe] reminded members of the uniformed forces of their subordinate place and role, viz-a-viz: the political authority of the land. By yesterday’s reprehensible conduct, it would appear that this wise counsel not only went unheeded, but was flagrantly flouted in deference to factional politics and personal ambitions.
“Such conduct stands unreservedly condemned not only in the party, but also in our Southern African region and the entire African continent, where subversion of constitutional authority is frowned upon and regarded as an absolute anathema.”
– African News Agency (ANA)